Schrock: Fields' hunger for greatness shows he's built to lead rebuild originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – NFL history is littered with the failed careers of quarterbacks with the same eye-popping skills as Justin Fields. Rocket-armed, elite-athlete quarterbacks who, for any number of reasons, didn't reach their potential.
But while the host of career bodies in the graveyard of NFL potential lost might have what Fields has, he has the thing they did not.
The Bears' second-year quarterback has the tick that drives other great players to reach and exceed the potential afforded by their generational gifts. The desire and will to never settle.
Fields is driven not by his greatest victories. Instead, like the true elites, Fields is fueled by any form of failure.
"I'm a big believer in everything happens for a reason," Fields said Tuesday when the Bears reported to training camp when asked how he dealt with a tough rookie season. "Who knows how I would have taken it if I had a great game every game. Maybe I wouldn't have that hunger still. I'm going to work, like Lucas [Patrick] said, until we get that Super Bowl trophy, as long as I'm here, I think everybody in this building knows is that I'm going to work. I'm going to do whatever I can to help us win games and to help us get better each and every day. So. Just failure pushes me to go even harder. So, you know. That's really all I've got to say. I want to do everything I can to win that trophy and get that ring."
From the moment he could grip a football, Fields has been the best player on every field he graced. He shredded defenses in Georgia en route to being one of the top recruits in the country. He committed to Georgia only to transfer to Ohio State.
He ripped apart Big 10 defenses in Year 1, leading the Buckeyes to a berth in the College Football Playoff Semifinals. A last-second interception against Clemson sent the Buckeyes home that year, but it only fueled Fields to come back with a vengeance during his final collegiate season.
The Bears and the No. 11 pick were Fields' destiny next. What Fields openly admits was not an ideal rookie season followed. While Fields flashed his star potential, the Bears' shoddy offensive line and uninventive scheme hampered his Year 1 development.
That would frustrate and beat down many elite players who aren't used to failure. But football isn't just Fields' job, it's something he has to do. Something he must conquer. He feels the need in his bones. He knows the unquenchable desire for greatness will come with setbacks. He welcomes them, knowing they'll help him get to the next level.
"Just the love of the game. I just want to be great. You know?" Fields said. "At the end of the day, this is my life. This is what I want to do for as long as I can. So. It's my job. It's my life. I don't know anything else. I've been doing this since I was, what, six years old. And it's just … When you've been doing something so long, you start to love it more and more.
"And I love the failure that comes with it. I love everything that comes with it because I know that at the end of the day that as long as I give my best and I know what I can do, and I know that once we reach our full potential what we'll be able to do. So, my love for the game, of course. The failures. The wins. Everything. I just love it."
Fields was quick to admit he doesn't like failing. Who does? But he does welcome its lessons and what comes next.
The Bears have spent decades searching for a true franchise quarterback. Fields' selection brought a wave of joy followed by the dread that the Bears might mess up a quarterback with superstar potential.
Matt Nagy's hatchet job during Fields' rookie season did nothing to assuage those concerns. But new head coach Matt Eberflus and the addition of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy should bring some optimism for Fields' future and the Bears' rebuild.
A rebuild can only be successful if the quarterback position is filled with a Tier 1 or Tier 2 signal-caller. A win games "because of" quarterback.
But truly elite quarterbacks are about more than arm strength or reading defenses. The Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, the franchise-legend, statue-worthy guys are never satisfied. Their journey to the top is never complete because there's always something to improve, some failure to build off, some wrong to right.
What Fields described Tuesday could be the catalyst for this Bears rebuild. It's a desire only a select few feel, and even fewer can harness to fuel their rise.
After a rookie season spent jockeying with Andy Dalton, this training camp will be all about Fields' development for the Bears.
There's no guarantee the building of Justin Fields will go according to plan or be successful.
But Fields showed Tuesday that he's a rare breed. The type successful rebuilds and eventual championship runs can be built around.
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